The IPO market has been frozen not just on Wall Street, but around the world, especially for new, emerging companies. So much so that the only IPO that has been grabbing attention is Volkswagen’s spin-out IPO of Porsche – a 70-plus-year-old brand – on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Two recent listings show that the IPO window on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) may be opening up. One is CALB (3931.HK), a fast-growing lithium-ion battery producer. The other is Star Plus Legend, a holding company that contains all the songs, movies, IPs, and other businesses of the Taiwanese music mogul, Jay Chou.
Two very different companies that, together, may signal the appetite for new listings on the HKEX has returned.
CALB’s IPO is the largest on the HKEX this year, netting the company a healthy proceeds of around $10 billion HKD (roughly $1.27 billion USD). It is also the HKEX’s first listing representing the lithium-ion battery sector that’s fueling the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
Most people who follow the EV market may be familiar with CATL, the dominant Chinese battery maker that supplies Tesla, Honda, Volkswagen and many other carmakers, or the Warren Buffett-owned BYD.
CALB, on the other hand, is an upstart that has struggled in its early days, survived the so-called “new energy winter” in China (2017-2018) with a corporate turnaround, and is now striving. Its battery installation base has grown more than 100% in each of the last three years – an unprecedented growth rate in this industry, albeit on a small base.
CATL is still the market leader by a wide margin. However, a smaller, faster-growing rival like CALB can become a serious challenger, if the capital market is robust and optimistic enough to pour money into tech IPOs. This is especially true for lithium-ion battery production, where large capital expenditure is needed to acquire mines for raw materials and build plants to produce the batteries. The capital market’s attitude has been cold this year as the world wrestles with war, rising interest rates to tamp down inflation, and, for China specifically, a struggling economy in the face of “dynamic zero-COVID'' compliance.
Now that CALB has taken the plunge on the HKEX and added more than a $1 billion USD in the bank to fuel its future growth, there is reason to believe that the attitude of the capital market, at least in Hong Kong, is warming up to more technology ventures. It is a bit too early to say how “warm” though. CALB’s IPO was priced at the low end of its range ($38 HKD) and price has been falling during its first few days of trading.
That’s why I’m paying attention to how Jay Chou’s company will fare when it starts trading on the HKEX.
Dubbed the “King of Mandopop”, Jay Chou has been ubiquitous in the Chinese entertainment industry for the last two decades. (He has also tried to break into Hollywood with movies like “The Green Hornet” without much success.) Even though pop stars are rarely the focus of this newsletter, Chou’s business empire and tech-savviness more than deserves a few paragraphs.
Beyond songs and movies, both of which he produces prolifically, Chou also has his own record company (JVR Music), reality TV show (J-Style Trip, available on Netflix), coffee brand, skin-care product, and Phanta Bear – a NFT collection he launched with his wife on OpenSea that sold out in 48 minutes. All of this “stuff” and more are part of Star Plus Legend, the holding company that filed for its HKEX IPO, coincidentally, one day before CALB started trading.
It is as if Jay-Z, the American hip-hop mogul, put all his songs, Roc Nation (his record company), Tidal (his music streaming app), clothing lines, and various other businesses into a holding company – and listed it on the NASDAQ.
(Both “Jay’s” embody one of Jay-Z’s most famous lines in the song “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” – "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man.")
Jay Chou’s road to an IPO was not all smooth. Star Plus Legend filed for IPO twice before in September 2021 and March 2022, but did not go through with the listing, likely due to tough market conditions. Whether this third time will be a charm for Chou remains to be seen, making this filing all the more worth watching.
A “pop star IPO” is the perfect “catnip” for retail investors, who have been leaving the market in droves due to the massive downturn this year. While there will certainly (hopefully) be serious stock analysts breaking down Star Plus Legend’s financial statements and future prospects as a media tech company, many “mom-and-pop” investors would want to buy the stock just to own “a piece of Jay Chou”. What they need is a little bit of cash and “yolo” optimism – the same optimism that may fuel the next CALB-like tech company to go public.
If Jay Chou and CALB can generate enough optimism on the HKEX, the frozen IPO window may indeed be thawing in the Asia-Pacific. And if that happens, the question everyone will be asking is: will Wall Street be next?
在港交所 IPO 有回暖吗？
(本篇中文版文章是读者 Ben Yu 做的编译，我做了一些修改后发表。非常感谢Ben的贡献！)
今年以来寒气吹到了每个人身上。首次公开募股（IPO）市场不仅在华尔街遇冷，在全球范围内都几乎陷入停滞，尤其对于新兴公司而言，以至于今年最让人印象深刻的 IPO 是大众汽车旗下保时捷汽车登陆德国法兰克福证券交易所。
在这种市场环境下，最近有两家公司选择在香港交易所（简称港交所） IPO ，一家是中国动力电池行业的独角兽中创新航（3931.HK），另一家是背靠周杰伦概念的巨星传奇集团有限公司，拥有周杰伦的所有歌曲、电影、IP 和其他业务。
中创新航的 IPO 是港交所今年规模最大的一笔，最终募资约 101.02 亿港元。这也是在港交所上市的第一家锂离子电池行业的公司，一定程度上推动了电动汽车行业的发展。
与之相比，中创新航则是一家初创企业，在中国 2017 年～2018 年所谓的“新能源市场资本寒冬”下通过企业转型生存了下来，一直在苦苦挣扎努力奋斗。中创新航的年装机量在过去三年里每年的增长率都超过 100%。尽管基数小，从而增长百分比幅度较大，但这个成绩也是中国前十大动力电池企业（甚至全球）中仅有的一家。
目前宁德时代依然是电池市场的主导者。如果资本市场足够乐观，将大量资金投入科技公司的 IPO 中，那么像中创新航这样规模较小、增长较快的公司就可能成为一个更有力的挑战者。在这些市场，需要大量资本支出来收购原材料矿，并建设生产电池的工厂。资本市场今年的态度一直很冷淡，因为全世界的重心在应对战争和遏制通胀上。对中国而言，坚持动态清零政策对中国经济也造成了压力。
现在，中创新航已经在港交所上市，募资超过 100 亿港元来帮助公司发展。这至少说明在香港，资本市场对科技企业的态度正在转温。当然这还远远谈不上是“市场回暖”，中创新航 IPO 最终定价是 38 港元，处于定价范围的低端，在上市后的头几天里价格也一直在下跌。
类比到美国，这就像美国嘻哈巨头 Jay-Z 把他所有的歌曲、Roc Nation (他的唱片公司) 、Tidal (他的音乐流媒体 App) 、服装系列，以及其他各种各样的业务都投入了一家控股公司，并在纳斯达克上市。
（有趣的是，这两个“Jay”都非常好地体现了 Jay-Z 在 “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” 中的歌词“I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man.”）
周杰伦的 IPO 之路并非一帆风顺。巨星传奇曾于 2021 年 9 月和 2022 年 3 月两次申请 IPO，但由于市场条件艰难，未能上市。这第三次的表现如何还有待观察和关注。
对于散户来说，流行明星 IPO 是很好的兴奋剂。由于今年股市大幅下跌，散户已经成群结队地离开了股市。尽管肯定会有严肃的股票分析师对巨星传奇的财务报表和作为一家媒体科技公司的未来前景进行分析，但相信会有很多投资者买巨星传奇的股票，就像买周杰伦的周边的心态一样。他们需要的是一点点现金加上一点点乐观情绪——这种乐观情绪可能会推动下一家类似中创新航的科技公司上市。
如果周杰伦和中创新航能够为港交所带来足够的乐观情绪和态度，那么亚太地区的 IPO 现状很可能会逐渐转暖，同时也一定会有更多人关心华尔街接下来的情况。